“Say What?”

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I wrote about listening the other day, and then I read in a book about aging how our brain fills in when we only catch part of a word. I found the concept intriguing, and I was then given a chance to see it in action. We went to a lovely restaurant for dinner Saturday night but were next to a very noisy bunch of young adults. The waiter was telling me about the cod special. Since I love cod, I was listening as attentively as possible as he described the dish. Then he said ” it is on a bed of corrabi.” I asked him what he had just said and he repeated “corrabi.” My brain froze. Did I really not know the name of some food after all these years? I stared at my table mates. My husband said “kohlrabi,” with a “k.” Aha. My poor mind was going off in the direction of “correlate,” “correspond,” and “corpulent.” It wasn’t going to get to “kohlrabi” if I had sat there all night!

In a similar vein, my husband yelled at me from the other room. I apparently only heard East Hartford is having a”ar,” “ing” and “an.”  I filled in the phrase making it “East Hartford is getting a marching band.” This made no sense, so I asked him why in a snow storm we were getting a marching band. No. It was “East Hartford is having a parking ban.” Now that made sense.

Kids do the same, trying to learn new words by comparing them to ones they already know. Years ago as I was talking about my forebears, our youngest piped up. “I know about the three bears, but who are the four bears?” When I discussed my Great-Uncle Jimmy, another asked, “is the other our bad Uncle Jimmy?”

As easy as it is to miss meanings, it is amazing that we communicate at all!

30 thoughts on ““Say What?”

  1. I can relate to that completely, now I am older.
    When I was using my spanking new phone to text someone recently, it ‘suggested’ words based on the first two letters I had already typed. I was tempted to leave them in, and send the resulting nonsense to my friend. (As a joke.)
    Then I wondered how many young people do just that, without knowing it is nonsense.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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  2. In my house, most miscommunication comes, not from hearing incorrectly, but from lack of clarity as to what is meant. For example, one evening recently I was finishing loading the dishwasher when my wife asked (as she was leaving the room) “if I wanted it off?” When I answered yes, she turned off the light, but I thought that by “it,” she was referring to the kitchen TV. The moral of the story is, what you say can be mis-interpreted if you’re not precise in what in what you mean.

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  3. Good to know! I’m there with you, and so is my wife. We are both becoming a little hard to hearing anyway, so we misunderstand each other a lot more than before. I can see it’s going to take a lot more patience from here on out…

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